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Massage Today
January, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 01

It's All in Your Mind

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

Happy New Year! Hope you had, or are having, a most joyous season of holidays. I want to start this year off with a rather esoteric editorial on how we as massage therapists, being alternative providers, have the potential to change the entire focus of health care in America. This is pretty heavy, conceptual stuff. I hope you can be open to at least thinking about it.

It is dysfunctional, or at least non-serving thought patterns, mostly unconscious, that are the root of most people's problems and conditions. Healing the mind is the only lasting way of healing the body and bringing about lasting health and wellness.

Increased awareness is an important initial first step, and touch therapies like massage have the potential to play an essential role in developing self-awareness. As alternative providers, we should be providing alternative health knowledge (education) to everyone we touch. Leading by example, we can heal the world one heart-mind at a time. From the non-dualistic perspective, what you do for or to others, you are doing to and for yourself. Likewise, what you do to and for yourself, you are doing to and for others. Think about it. Health is a conscious choice. Health is not a right. To get it, we have to pursue it. No one can get it for us, and no one can give it to us. It is a conscious choice each one of us must make and then pursue with passion and dedication.

Are we as a profession interested in helping people achieve health, or are we interested in temporarily relieving symptoms, be they stress or more specific ones? If we are interested in helping people achieve health, we have to be their example. No one can lead where they have not been. If we are just interested in temporarily relieving symptoms, then we should focus on sickness like the allopaths do. Learn all about it. You will get what you focus on, so you will get lots of symptoms, probably in your body as well as in the patients you see. (Doctors die relatively young.)

This attitude requires very little personal responsibility from either the patient or the provider. Address the patient's symptom, be it stress or trigger points, and send them on their way. Hope they will call back regularly for more symptomatic relief. Then wonder why they disappear after a while, only to learn they are desperately seeking help from another provider who, sadly, will probably only treat their symptoms, just differently. So few choose the path of health because it is more difficult, but the rewards come back many times over the effort required in something called "quality of life" or "wellness." It also comes back as a booked-solid practice with people begging you to help them.

This presents the massage profession with a tough choice. We tend to look for the easy way out. I am often told to lighten up: "It's just a massage." I am told there is no need to spend more time learning about health; just learn to push some oil around and help people relax. Anyone can learn to do massage. It's no big deal, I am told. We sell ourselves so short sometimes.

As a profession, we need a change of focus from being in the massage business to being in the people and health business. We also have the opportunity to bring about a huge paradigm shift in health care if we will just step up to the plate. The problem with health care today is that its focus is on the professions. That is what all the turf wars and licensing battles are about. The professions win and the patients lose every time. The current system is about maximizing profit, not wellness, to the point that it is against the best interests of the system to allow wellness. It is time to turn the focus toward the patient, providing the best and most cost-effective care and wellness possible. Only the alternative disciplines can do this, and massage has the biggest chance of success.

Hippocrates wrote, "It is more important to know what kind of person the disease has than what kind of disease the person has." By putting the patient first. By treating the person, the whole person, and by focusing on wellness instead of sickness (symptoms), we can set a new standard of health care and the public will flock to us.

Get into the people and health business, put the patient first, and learn your stuff, especially how to assess and treat the patient with soft-tissue pain. Walk your talk. When you can get people out of pain, prevent injuries and inspire people to reach for high-level wellness, you will not have to participate in the economic downturn. You will have patients begging you to work on them, as do those of us who have already made this investment in ourselves. Join in while it is still allowed, for humanity's sake.

GM Food vs. Your Organs

In research conducted at the request of the Austrian Health Ministry, Professor Jurgen Zentek found that Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) corn (MON863) can have negative effects on animal reproductive systems, leading to sterility in three to four generations. Monsanto's own studies have shown organ damage, as have other studies since 1998. Of course, Monsanto denies the charges based on the fact that bureaucrats and politicians all over the world have approved the stuff as safe to eat. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations have approved GM foods, prevented foods from being labeled as GM and forced them on the rest of the world. This is not expected to stop anytime soon.

This is about massage, by the way. Sterility and organ damage will cause much stress and probably soft-tissue conditions (visceral-somatic reactions) that we will be seeing on our tables eventually. They continue to justify human suffering in the name of profit. If you care to learn more, see

I'll be back in March. Bring your kites.

Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB.


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